Endgame Technique Yields Grischuk Shared First

Endgame Technique Yields Grischuk Shared First

| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

With some great endgame play Alexander Grischuk today defeated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who was one of the leaders at the Grand Prix in Sharjah. With one round to go Grischuk now leads with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who held the draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi.

He's one of the players who played some quick draws, but with two excellent endgame victories Grischuk is now a co-leader in Sharjah. After his good win vs Eljanov, today he also outplayed Mamedyarov in the endgame.

"Shakhriyar mixed something up in the opening and I got an advantage quickly, but then I started to play very stupidly," said Grischuk. He felt that the endgame, right after the trade of queens, should be a draw. That could have been reached with e.g. 28...Rd8, as Mamedyarov pointed out afterward.

A persistent Grischuk managed to win an important endgame.

But after the Azeri grandmaster missed his chances, Grischuk played strongly in the remaining rook endgame. He avoided a nice trick by Mamedyarov along the way. Please try to figure out yourself why 51.c7? doesn't work.


The moment when Shakh was showing this nice line. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

The game ended with Mameyarov resigning after making a move, without waiting for Grischuk to reply. After his 60th move, Mamedyarov looked at the position for about 20 second and then threw in the towel.

"I thought today was the day to play risky, finally. I thought let's do it once and try to win the game," said Paco Vallejo after his very interesting draw with Salem Saleh.

Now that's the spirit!

The Spanish GM had prepared the Winawer French with 5...Ba5, thinking that Salem wouldn't have analysed his recent blitz game against Daniil Dubov in this line. That turned out to be true, but Salem felt quite at home in the early middlegame anyway. 

The handshake before what would be a very nice game. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

White missed a good chance on move 19 to keep the initiative, and then Vallejo found a fantastic positional piece sacrifice. Unfortunately for the audience, a draw was agreed not much later—maybe a bit too early.

This game deserved to end in a nice perpetual, but, said Vallejo: "I had too many emotions already for today."

The players had great fun in the post-mortem. At the end, Salem said: "Let's stop this engine because everything will start to look interesting and this press conference will never end!"

The top board, between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, saw lots of theory and preparation in the mainline of the 1...e5 English. Black ended up a pawn down, but it wasn't difficult to hold.

MVL: "I check this a ling time ago and I rechecked it a couple of days ago. There's probably an easier option where you don't get 3 against 4, but 3 against 4 is good enough."

Jon Ludvig Hammer's confidence might have been boosted by the fact that Pavel Eljanov had stated yesterday that he's out of form. Nonetheless, the Ukrainian won this game rather smoothly.

It all started with Hammer probably overestimating his control of the d6-square during his preparation. "I am ready to regroup my pieces," said Eljanov, "and in the endgame, with the king on e7, it's very solid."

An instructive win for Eljanov, who played by the principle of two weaknesses today.

Hammer said that he made things worse by playing 24.g4. "I was trying to pretend I knew how to play chess so I played a space grabbing move and that is basically just part of the reason I lost the game. (...) I'm not sure Pavel needed to calculate a single line in the game."

Hammer chatting with Richard Rapport before the game.

Levon Aronian vs Hikaru Nakamura was similar to "Nepo" vs MVL, with black defending a pawn-down rook endgame which was always close to a draw. The start was fun though: Aronian had found yet another position in the Queen's Gambit Declined where White goes g2-g4, even after the trade of queens.

"Just an idea I had some time ago. It looks interesting," the Armenian GM said. "The computer grabs the material and holds but we're humans and we don't like to play with pieces on the edge of the board."

He added that the game was "more exhausting for Hikaru," who had to calculate a lot. 

"I think I calculated well but I got a bit careless in this two-rooks endgame," said Nakamura. "I was still be able to draw but I think it should have been a bit easier."

Nakamura: "I think I calculated well."

Draws were seen in Jakovenko-Adams, Riazantsev-Tomashevsky, Hou Yifan-Rapport, and Li Chao-Ding. Tomorrow the two leaders face each other; a game where a (quick) draw is likely but then five players will have a chance to join the duo in first place.

Pairings for round 9:

Bo. No. Fed Name Rtg Pts. vs Pts. Fed Name Rtg No.
1 1 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2796 5 5 Grischuk Alexander 2742 9
2 3 Nakamura Hikaru 2785 Adams Michael 2751 7
3 12 Jakovenko Dmitry 2709 Nepomniachtchi Ian 2749 8
4 4 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2766 4 Hou Yifan 2651 17
5 5 Ding Liren 2760 4 4 Aronian Levon 2785 2
6 14 Rapport Richard 2692 4 4 Li Chao 2720 10
7 13 Vallejo Pons Francisco 2709 4 3 Tomashevsky Evgeny 2711 11
8 6 Eljanov Pavel 2759 Salem A.R. Saleh 2656 16
9 15 Riazantsev Alexander 2671 3 Hammer Jon Ludvig 2628 18


This new Grand Prix series consists of four legs. The other three tournaments will be in Moscow (in May this year), Geneva (in July) and in Palma de Mallorca (in November).

A total of 24 players are competing, with each tournament having 18 participants. The two best performing players will qualify for next year's Candidates' Tournament.

Games from TWIC.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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